Big Game Today

Here I am, with my affiliations to Italy, the land of my origins, in a "German" lab. Many bets are on the line. So can Gli Azzurri make it? Although history may predict that the home team has an advantage, Germany has never defeated Italy in either the Euro Cup or the World Cup. There has always been some bizarre logic, akin to numerology, associated with the World Cup:

- Latin teams have always won the Cup when it was played in latin countries (except once). Non-latin teams have won 3/5 cups on non-latin soil.
- European teams have never won the Cup outside of Europe, but they've won every contest held inside Europe (except once). This trend will hold in this cup.
- Until recently there was a funny trend in Cup winners:

1962 Brazil
-1966 England
--1970 Brazil
---1974 Germany
----1978 Argentina
-----1982 Italy
----1986 Argentina
---1990 Germany
--1994 Brazil
-1998 France
2002 Brazil

- This trend is almost symmetrical, except 1966 and 1998, when England and France won their only Cups. The trend will not hold this year as Brazil (who won in 1958) has been KOed.
- The number of Cup wins, amazingly, is correlated to the total number of World Cup games won (except for Uruguay's two tittles):

1 Brazil 60W 14D 13L - 5Cups
2 Germany 50W 18D 17L - 3Cups
3 Italy 39W 17D 14L - 3Cups
4 Argentina 30W 11D 19L - 2Cups
5 England 22W 15D 13L - 1Cup
6 France 21W 7D 16L - 1Cup
7 Spain 19W 12D 14L - 0Cups
8 Russia/USSR 17W 6D 14L - 0Cups
9 Yugoslavia 16W 8D 13L - 0Cups
10 Sweden 15W 11D 16L - 0Cups
10 Uruguay 15W 10D 15L - 2Cups
12 Netherlands 14W 9D 9L - 0Cups

So getting back to today's game. The Italians may or may not have made a fuss about the German midfielder Frings, who is suspended for this game for punching an Argentine player (see video here - I'm not so sure he deserved the ban). And yes there's the penalty. But they've been also experimenting with soccer tactics, at a time when defense has dominated the game. Italy is trying to rush attacks and catch the opponents off guard. I applaud them for that. It worked against Ghana, the Czechs and Ukraine, but not so well against the Aussies and the Americans. Will it work against the Germans?

We'll see at 3:00PM.

(Also I've reorganized all my entries on the 2006 World Cup - click here to view them all.)

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I was just informed of some other weird World Cup Numerology. Germany has won the cup 3 times (54, 74, 90).


Is this a sign of things to come?

Congratulations man. I'll buy you a Moretti to celebrate!

By Evil Monkey (not verified) on 04 Jul 2006 #permalink

I'm still breathing through my granny's oxygen tank here... what a great game.

Italy played very well in the first half, and the Germans gave it all and took over in the second. In overtime both teams were like two exhausted boxers taking mighty blows at each other - great that Italy landed the 1-2 for the knock-out at the very end... I have terrible memories of PK's.

The ref did a great job too, helped by the players who overall were quite fair. His only mistake was the foul by Cannavaro at the limit, which was not a foul in my opinion, but if it was it was inside the box. The Germans didn't complain about it, though - probably knew it was already a gift.

Italy won the classical Italian soccer way - great defense and opportunism on offense - but they showed good midfield and offense for large parts of the game. We'll see who they'll play in the final, but I sure hope France and Portugal will go to OT too, since the Italians spent so much.

Alex, are you first generation Italian American, or Italian? Also, where are you working at Harvard Med? I was at Children's, and later at the Center for Blood Research, from '91 to '97.

Excellent game -- the teams were quite well-matched, but the Italians in the end had superior endurance, concentration and will to win. Two indisputably beautiful goals -- the faker redeemed himself.

Hoping for a France-Italy final, another 120th minute winning goal.


Yes it was a great game. Italy played well (except Totti) I posted my thoughts on an entry today (I really have to get back to writing about science...)

Alex, are you first generation Italian American, or Italian? Also, where are you working at Harvard Med? I was at Children's, and later at the Center for Blood Research, from '91 to '97.

I am actually second generation Italian Canadian (or Italocanadese as we're sometimes called). Here's an entry on my Grandparent's move to the New World. Right now I'm a postdoc in Tom Rapoport's lab right off of the Quad in the LHRRB building.

Did you notice that in the list of winners it alternates between Europe and South America. I suppose you could say Europe and Brazil/Argentina. Based on that, it was a given that Brazil and Argentina would get knocked out. How does the location correlate? Has a non-euro/SA team ever won?

The wins vs cups kind of makes sense. To win the cup you have to have 4 wins past the group stage. It just adds up that way I think. Maybe it doesn't have to be that way but it would be weird to have lots of wins but no Cup.

The game was a good one. I was cheering for Italy because I didn't want Germany to win on their home soil. It is just too convenient. I hated when France won at home.


Only 7 teams have won (all listed in the table above) so no team outside of Europe/SA has ever won. I guess the alternates reflect the fact that every second WC is played in Europe.

As for the wins vs cups, it takes only 5-6 wins to get a cup. The Czechs, Sweeds, Hungarians (2x), Holland (2x) were all one victory away from winning it (they all lost in the finals), South Korea, Turkey, Belgium, Portugal and many, many other teams were 2 victories away (all lost in the semis). So it seems as if only the biggest fish can win - minnows may go far in some cups, but they always get eaten in the end.

I'll post some more World Cup numerology, since I've posted some above. Since 1970, Italy has been in the final EVERY 12 YEARS (70, 82, 94 and now 06). Strangely enough, they weren't in the 1958 final ... in fact the 1958 final does not conform to any of the trends listed - it brakes them all. Perhaps it had something to do with an 18 year old in the Brazilian squad ...